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Mentor's hunting program a success

Posted on February 12, 2013

Jeffery FrischkornNow with a season’s worth of data and experience under its belt the City of Mentor has concluded its first-ever controlled archery deer hunt was a resounding success.

So the community’s parallel state-sanctioned deer cull.

Only the magnitude of the deer take surprised everyone, from city fathers to the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

In all, the 58 participating and properly permitted archery-only hunters arrowed 128 animals. Meanwhile, the Mentor Police Department’s SWAT team killed another 213 deer.

The former were all taken on private property with a single or combined plot size of at least five acres while the police sharpshooters focused on killing deer in city parks and other public reserves.

Too, all of the deer taken by the four SWAT sharpshooters were processed with the resulting 3,000-plus pounds of venison donated to local food banks and pantries.

Mentor is located in Lake County in extreme Northeast Ohio. It covers nearly 27 square miles and its human population is just more than 47,000 souls.

The number of deer that call – or, better yet, called – Mentor home is/was even more staggering. During an aerial infrared count last winter one chunk of the city had a deer density of 33 animals per square mile. And within the 100-acre Veterans Park – owned by Mentor but managed by Lake Metroparks – the calibrated deer density mushroomed to a startling 150 animals per square mile.

Deer were not only eating themselves out of their own house and home they also were doing a pretty good job of feasting on the landscaping material grown by property owners.

So after a lengthy debate in which foes of allowing any kind of controlled, managed archery-only hunt were silenced the city adopted a rigorous set of rules and regulations for all participants

Among the requirements were hunting from elevated stands only, no Sunday hunting, participants must have at least five acres to hunt and which could include more than one parcel, a required hunt site inspection by the city with restrictions on how close  stand can be from a property line, the insistence that a participant must pass a proficiency test, as well as a requirement to obtain a Mentor Police escort should a hunter have to cross over onto any non-participating parcel.

That the program went so well is a testament to how thoroughly Mentor researched the issue and adopted a strict set of hunt criteria, city fathers say.

“The bow hunting surpassed what I was expecting,” said Mentor Councilman John Krueger in a local newspaper account of the project. “The other thing all of council is happy about is (how) the program went smoothly – nobody got hurt. One hunter lost his license because he didn’t follow the rules As for complaints, there were very few.”

Likewise, the Wildlife Division has expressed pleasure at what Mentor was able to accomplish and how well the participating archers performed their duty.

“Wow,” said Mike Tonkovich, the Wildlife Division’s deer management administrator. “Those kinds of numbers can have a significant impact on the size of a herd.”

Tonkovich said also said the need is to kill at least 20 percent of adult does to keep a deer population on an even keel.

And that Mentor’s program were some 341 animals were taken shows that controlled hunting – even if it involves just archery tackle – combined with an authorized cull can achieve excellent results, says Tonkovich as well.

“Mentor has shown that it can be successful,” Tonkovich says.

The city has said it will continue to evaluate the program but that it will continue at least through the 2013-2014 archery deer-hunting season.